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What’s Arrogance Got To Do With It?

Dilbert is way too smart sometimes. Or maybe it’s his creator who has the pulse of today’s business/technology/relational world?

The interesting thing about arrogance is that its hard to know when you’re doing it. It’s a challenge to be confident in your opinion without projecting an air of superiority.

via Scott Adams Blog: The Arrogance Thing 02/16/2012.

For me, this kind of statement falls into the same category as, “If you’re wrong, how would you know it?”. We all think we know what we know for all the right reasons and intentions, but we’re really just solidified most days in our own presumptions and misconceptions of the world. Being right should be something that draws people, but that confidence gone awry into arrogance turns people off and pushes them further from whatever you’re sure is the truth.

How can we exude confidence without smelling of arrogance?

  • Listen more than you speak – this is the hardest one, because if you’re convinced of you own “being right”, then what more is there to listen for? But here’s the thing: you might not be right, and you’re probably not so right that you can’t stand to still learn from the perspective of others. In fact, the best kind of confidence has no problem listening to the doubts or questions of others. Those things solidify your resolve or they add new factors to the equation. Either way, win/win.
  • Look people in the eye – we all like to be affirmed and respected, and this is one way to be real with someone in a meaningful way. Even in the midst of disagreement, having that shared line-of-sight can show a willingness to learn and to move forward positively together. It’s hard to be deceptive looking someone in the eye, and trust has to be a foundational aspect of getting things done together.
  • Choose your words wisely – you are not given a chance to take back hurtful or graceless words. You want people on your side, grabbing onto the reality  you’ve figured out – and being kind and educational in the way you converse will go farther than “because I say so”. Draw people in. Be a teacher. Look for opportunities to use the right metaphor. Be a story-teller. Your greatest asset might be your ability to encourage and challenge your listeners – this is the time to get the prose right the first time.
  • Do your homework – know what you’re talking about from every angle, and in the midst of it all you’ll stand out, and your point will stand out, because you’ve done the back-checking and fact-checking all around. Honestly, this one works hand-in-hand with the Listen directive above – if you listen closely for new ideas and for supporting information, your point might make itself in spite of whatever else going on.
What else would you add to the list? What would you subtract?
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2 Responses to What’s Arrogance Got To Do With It?

  1. Good stuff, Rick! I think I’ll pass this one on to my staff.